keskiviikko 28. toukokuuta 2014

Less sh*t, less cleaning

There is but one reason to become a minimalist.  To get rid of extra stuff.  Cleaning.

I have a wonderful balcony and quite a lot of free time.  One of these days I got my spring cleaning of the balcony started.  I picked up bunch of dead leaves and wiped all the horizontal surfaces.  Sounds like a sweet thing to do, doesn't it?  To care for your beloved balcony and making it all the more possible to spend those lovely summer days there.

Oh no.  I was whining in my mind the whole time, my mantra being "I HATE cleaning, I SO HATE cleaning...  I just want to get this over with."

I once visited a guy with a studio apartment.  He had hired a cleaning lady who came once a week.  That is quite rare here in Finland but I really envied him.  Since that moment (and it was about 9 years ago) I have dreamed of having one.  Still haven't afforded one.  Still hate cleaning.

But back to the balcony cleaning: I did grasp a beauty about it, if even for a moment. I realized that I have a bad habit of thinking that cleaning is something just to get over with.  Right there I miss a chance of meditation, since in reality cleaning is such a great way to meditate and enjoy a practical work. It's not even dull or repetitive, like an industry work might be.  You have different surfaces and parts of the job, and when you get them done part by part, you can really see, how first the surface is cleared of extra things and then wiped clean - and it is you who gets it all done.  With the right attitude it can be a wonderful way of being in the moment the moment and being thankful even when doing things you don't exactly love.

So I should train my mind and really take the gift of cleaning.  Like so.  Cleaning at the best can be a very good exercise.

And then, about stuff, or sh*t as we say in french...  if there was less, there would be so much less to clean, and it would be that much more enjoyable too.  Not having to move everything around when you wipe the surfaces.

There's so much to clear for so many reasons.

torstai 17. huhtikuuta 2014

Two blogs

I have another blog, which is much more alive than this one.  It is in Finnish.

Finnish is my first language.  I do like writing in English, but the idea I originally had about translating everything I write to the other blog and posting it here hasn't really been working.  I simply haven't been willing to do it - after I do a piece in Finnish, I feel very done with it.  It is also quite time-sucking to write   Also it's about the rhythm and usage of the language altogether: these two languages just don't work the same way.  In Finnish I also write about things that are very related to the Finnish culture and society, so I find it really hard to find inspiration to tell the same things in English.

I need to figure out how will this English one work.  Since hardly anyone has even seen it so far, it will hurt no one if it's going to be quiet for a while.

keskiviikko 26. helmikuuta 2014

My valuable burdens

Why is it so hard for me to toss out things?  The heaviest load of things is my own work.

I've kept a journal since I was 12 years old.  I don't even know how many of those little books I have.  There are dozens at my parent's house, as well as here in my home.  I fill up a couple a year.  I think the amount is fifty or sixty at the moment.

I love those diaries.  I know people who really indeed wish to part with their past self and with that those old journals, but I do somehow consider my old self valuable, as well as the lessons her thoughts offer.  Because, if I pick up one of those books, and start reading it, don't I find some wonderful and valuable about myself, things I have forgotten, something I would not have seen without this particular book?  If knowing yourself is a journey, that lasts all your life, aren't all those notes precious traces of that passage, especially, when each piece contains at least one crystal clear, beautiful though?  Of course we have limited time in this life, and I might not read all of them from cover to cover ever again - but who knows?  Maybe, as an old lady I'd like to do that some time, and I'd have the time?  How sad would I be, if then I'd notice I got rid of those books, that won't take any more space than a couple of boxes do.

Writing down on your diary, especially by hand, has been and still is for me, maintaining my mental health.  I've read some news about studies that show that brain functions more effectively when you write with your hands instead of a keyboard.

The other place where I store up things are my archives.  I have to admit I haven't touched all the papers I collected when studying in college, but I do think I might like to look at them some time.  I've stored whole plays, and all kind of photocopies on different most interesting school subjects, and of course self-written notes after notes, bunch of written and drawn material.  With art there is nothing boring or numbing about the most of the study materials.  I've kept those chosen materials because I think that I might find something there.  Like the books you believe you'll read again.

The concrete biggest burden I find with my paintings.  From when I was studying I have several paintings that are rolled up, and over one meter long and wide, the largest at my parent's, at my home some of the not-so-important ones...  and I really don't know what to do about those.  Should I donate the less significant ones out through Facebook, for instance, put frames on the favorites and hang them up at home?  Give some of them to friends and relatives?  Standard A2 stuff I have in a couple of cool vintage suitcases, but what about those huge rolls...  however the big scale artist might have stuff that fill up big rooms and storage spaces and somehow they manage to handle their archives.  I'm not ready to depart with these works, at least not to throw them in the garbage.  The thought of handing them out to friends and relatives does tickle me though.  I'm letting that idea grow on me.

Then, there are photos and letters, I just got a new box from my parents and got stuck reading them for quite a while.  So much love and affections from years ago, messages from friends I haven't seen in years, photos from my high school year as an exchange student, from middle school...  so many memories, so many special and forgotten glimpses of my life story.

Does someone turn memories like this into digital form?  And do they in this physical form take up so much space you can't keep them?  Or are these the things you actually should keep?

I love my stuff

How much stuff do I have?

My first thought raising from the word "minimalism" is a room with a mattress and not much else.

If I think of the necessities, how much does one person need?  A set of clothes that fills a washer and one outfit on top of that, two sets of bed linen, one for use when the other needs to be washed, two big towels and some smaller ones.  Dishes, one of each, all of them to be washed right away after use.  But what if someone visits?  And you might need a couple of pots to make a whole meal.  And what if you don't get the chance to do your laundry just when you should when everything is dirty?  ...there are so many what ifs that make you store up.

I, for instance, have quite a lot of books.  I argue this with the fact that some books you just better own.  They are so special, that you might need to get back to them anytime.  Then it is better to be able to find it in your on shelf.  So all these shelves full, holding my 200 books, include only such treasures, then?  Nah.  Some of them I got as gifts, and don't "dare" to give them up, even though the one who gave me the book (grandma) has actually passed away, or would never know (a friend I really don't see these days).  Some books I think I abandoned after the one reading, but since they are alright, I haven't tossed them.  Some I just forgot there in the shelf.

I don't live alone.  I live with a guy, my live-in boyfriend.  He only has a couple of books, but when he moved in, he brought some storing items and cabinets, already full of stuff, all well organized...  and he hasn't touched most of it during the time we've lived together.  Which is over a year now.

And he calls me a hoarder.  He surely is of course just teasing me, since and actual hoarder does not care what it is they keep, as we can see in the the TV show "Hoarders"... the book Garbology, I mentioned earlier, also pictures the hoarder homes quite shockingly.  Still my boyfriend's words sometimes hit me, I actually start defending myself.  I for instance try to claim that everything I have I need ;)

A while ago I heard a radio show in the Yle Puhe channel here in Finland, (Maria Pettersson: Ihmishamsterit) that claimed an average Finn's 2-room-apartment has 10 000 things in it.  That is quite an amount!  Now that I counted my book, and I some time counted some of my clothes...  I would say we don't have even close to that.  I'd say it maybe is over a thousand, maybe two or three thousand... and what counts?  A pin?  A paper clip?

Oh well it does not make sense now to count pins or paper clips - or counting any of your stuff.  What does make sense is seeing if you really use your things for anything, if you do at all.  Different hobbies pile things up in your home: I do handicrafts, sewing, especially tuning clothes - thus the pins.  Craft makers know the syndrome of having so many materials, having so much fabric and threads, with me also the pieces of clothing I'm going to "do something with".  I might even have it all planned out already, but the vintage dress is in my closet, folded nicely, waiting for another year still...  like that fabric I dyed at school seven years ago.  It was supposed to become a coat, I actually also bought a fabric for lining it - three years ago.  The thing is though that back then my style was quite more dandy than it is now, so if I ever got that coat made, I don't know if it was "me".  (Well that fabric I'm talking about is indeed so super cool, I'd make it mine.)

But enough with the excuses, how much stuff do I (after all) have, now?  Too much, indeed.  I have too much stuff.  I especially have too many clothes.  Every time I take out some of them to donate, I get on this "careless" gear and toss also some things I feel a little sting for.  The last time I threw out four full regular plastic bags!

And still I never miss them.  I never have any trouble finding things to wear.

A couple of year ago there were talks about this Dave Bruno challenge of owning only one hundred things.  I find this quite a respectable objective seen from this jungle of 2000...  but coming back to the paper clips, I wouldn't throw them out just to buy a new package when I need them again.  There are these little things you just might need.  Sure, it's still not about paper clips...

It's about the question what is enough.  Could we do with less?  Could it be that having less would actually work better?  Like with my wardrobe, I actually do have a problem with organizing it.  Having way too many things to wear ends up with not being able to find that one thing you're looking for, and having too many things around might make you feel that there actually isn't anything to wear, when the things you see don't go together to easily make a decent outfit.  Now then if you would just have a couple of things that "work", also together, and very well organized, putting together an outfit is so easy every day.  (People who don't care about clothes wouldn't have this problem.  I now happen to care especially some special cases and vintage things.)

So it's not about the stuff, it's about how you feel with it.  In his book the writer of the 4-hour work week , Tim Ferriss gives some good advice on getting rid of things.  In the end he states that it's not a physical space, but mental space, that opens up.  

maanantai 13. tammikuuta 2014


I'm a Finnish Helsinkian in my thirties.  I live in a fairly well-sized two-room-apartment with a live-in-boyfriend.  I move around by (my beloved) bicycle and public transportation.

I have done the "ecological thing" for quite some time, several years, actually.  At first I started off probably, because I had lots of friends buying into the sort of philosophy.  I also always have had a personal interest in saving the world ;)

Ecological and less-consuming way of thinking has taken over my brain little by little and has become a norm.

I am very worried about all the garbage I'm leaving behind, as well as that of others living in the western countries.  An average Finn produces from 400 up to 500 kilos of waste every year.

A while ago I found this book.  It is about American philosophy and policies concerning garbage; study of garbage, flow and handling of garbage, and several radical individuals who work for the aim of cutting down the production of the great amounts of waste.

This is the book: 

Garbology - Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash was written by an Edward Humes.  I have to admit I am not familiar with his other books, but just reading this one had me convinced of him knowing, what he's talking about.  Sincerely and with so many living examples he makes it clear and inevitable: we can't keep doing, what we are doing.  We need to change the way we live.  

The world is inevitably about to sink into trash, and the greatest reason for that is this the western idea of living, where consuming is the center of existence.

In this blog I'm trying to describe my ways of achieving a less waste-producing way of living.  And that is not all - besides not bringing so much trash to this world I would like to own less things.  I have always been very bad at cleaning up.  The less I own, the easier it gets.  I also believe that having less stuff keeps might also help me to keep a clearer mind.